Native Land

Politically committed art photographer and filmmaker Paul Strand independently produced this docudrama, part of his ongoing exploration of man and nature but more radical than anything he had done previously. Constructed out of documentary and newsreel sequences as well as fictional footage using professional actors to reenact events, the film opened in 1942 and quickly disappeared, its message of class struggle no longer in tune with the national unity politics of World War II. The film begins with images of waves crashing against the rocky cliffs of a primordial land. In the following shots, Strand cuts from the sea to the forest to majestic mountains. With Paul Robeson's strong voice booming on the soundtrack, the film develops a surprisingly patriotic narrative of man struggling for freedom. Yet the development of cities and civilization alienates man ever further from the land. Certainly an ideological hybrid in its time, Native Land's striking black-and-white cinematography is supported by fluid editing that marks the filmmakers as students of Eisenstein and Pudovkin.

Preserved from the original 35mm nitrate picture negative, a 35mm safety duplicate negative, and a 35mm safety up-and-down track negative.

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